Man Gets 14 Years for Gas Station Gun Threat During Sandy Fuel Shortage

Man Gets 14 Years for Gas Station Gun Threat During Sandy Fuel Shortage

Photo: Cops guarded some gas stations during the fuel shortage that hit New York and New Jersey in the days following Superstorm Sandy. Photo Courtesy of Brennan Cavanaugh/flickr

One of the many indelible images of the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy were the lines—some even miles long— of cars and people stretching from gas stations as the city tried desperately to deal with a fuel shortage that lasted for weeks.

Gas levels were low, but tensions high; and in at least one case in Astoria, disregard for line etiquette, coupled with a threat involving a gun, left a predicate felon with an empty tank and a 14-year prison term.

A St. Albans man last Thursday was sentenced for illegally possessing a firearm which he used in November 2012 to menace a motorist while the vehicle in which he was a passenger attempted to cut a gas line in the days following the storm, according to Queens District Attorney Richard Brown.

Sean Bailey, 38, was convicted in June of second- and third-degree criminal possession of a weapon and second-degree menacing. He was sentenced as a predicate felon to 14 years in prison followed by five years of post-release supervision.

According to trial testimony, Ali El Rida, 29, was waiting in line to get gas at the intersection of Astoria Boulevard and 43rd Street at approximately 2:30 a.m. on Nov. 1, 2012, when a white 2010 BMW pulled up to the gas station and tried to cut the line directly in front of El Rida’s vehicle. When El Rida complained, Bailey got out of the BMW’s front passenger seat, walked up to El Rida’s vehicle, displayed a .25-caliber pistol to him and said, “If you don’t pull back, you are not getting gas tonight.”

El Rida complied with Bailey’s request; he backed up and then called 911. Police immediately arrived and arrested Bailey at the gas station.

“Superstorm Sandy stands as one of the worst natural disasters to strike our city in recent memory,” Brown said. “In its aftermath, the vast majority of New Yorkers behaved decently and commendable, though there were random instances, such as in this case, where the defendant refused to play by the rules and chose instead to behave like a bully in order to get what he wanted.”


By Michael V. Cusenza 



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